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Category Archives: Accessories
I have just completed a review of the Edelkrone FlexTilt Head 2. The full article can be seen here.
In addition I have added a landing page for this and future product reviews. At some point I will add previous review links to this page. The page is a sub menu under “Products”
Think Tank Photo have just announced a new line of shoulder bags for DSLR and mirrorless systems. The new Spectral shoulder bags feature a Fidlock clasp that enables one-handed access to gear and then locks automatically when closing the flap. An additional zippered closure gives peace of mind while traveling and can be tucked away when actively shooting. Constructed with durable yet stylish materials, the Spectral Shoulder Bag offers Think Tank quality and ingenuity at a reasonable price. The Spectral 8 is under $100. And don’t forget that when you use my URL you will receive free gear and free shipping with your order of all Think Tank gear, including the Spectrals.
I purchased the MIOPS Smart Trigger last summer after seeing it being used by a few photographers in Europe. This a combination trigger, intervalometer, remote and a whole lot more. The nice part is that it is well built, small and light. The MIOPS can be purchased for $220 to $240 based on the camera cables you need.
The unit measures approximately 2.5 in. X 4.0 in. and weighs just under 4.0 oz. including the battery.
The MIOPS trigger has six modes of preprogrammed operation and one “Do It Yourself” port. A really useful feature is that you can vary the sensitivity of each of the modes as appropriate.
The controller is very durable. I have had it in my bag for over 1 year and is does not show any signs of wear and continues to perform very well.
A 128×128 pixel, full-color display, is mounted just above the large buttons, used for operation and selecting menu options on the front of the trigger.
The device is powered by a 3.7 V/1020 mAh. lithium-ion rechargeable battery.
The MIOPS can be used with Sony, Panasonic, Olympus, Canon and Nikon, as well as other brands. The trigger hardware is identical for all configurations with the exception of the supplied cables that need to match the I/O ports of your camera.
This allows you to use one MIOPS with various camera models as long as you purchase the right connection cables.
The trigger unit is used in two ways, either to trigger an external flash or to activate the shutter of your camera. Flash units are connected via the PC sync jack, and cameras are connected via the remote shutter release jack.
The MIOPS internal (replaceable) battery can be charged via a micro-USB cable and any USB charger or your PC’s USB Port,
The MIOPS is manufactured using a strong plastic with well configured, raised push button controls. The screen is an LED display and is easy to read in most lighting conditions. It has an internal microphone and a light-sensitive sensor for activating laser and lightning modes. For the DIY mode, an additional port is provided that can be connected to an external sensor.
The trigger can be mounted using the camera hot shoe or on any support that has a 1/4 20 screw mount.
The MIOPS can be used remotely via the free MIOPS smartphone app for IOS and Android phones.
For triggering with the MIOPS it is best to set your camera to manual exposure and manual focus.
In conclusion, I have no hesitation in recommending the MIOPS Smart. There are a number of other features that are available when you use the smartphone app that I will leave for a future post.
MIOPS Triggers are available at Hunts Photo & Video – here is a link to the Panasonic Version – use the search field for other versions.
For more information, you can visit the MIOPS web site at www.miops.com
The makers of Lume Cube have a new smaller and less powerful but a highly efficient light designed for phone photography called the Life Lite. This is a smart, Bluetooth controlled, pocket-sized Lifestyle Light for iPhone, Android, DSLR or a GoPro. The Life Light will be available in March.
This gadget review however, is of the original Lume Cube and the cheaper version that does not have any bluetooth connectivity. Both are identical in performance and while you can controll one with a smart phone the lite version is all manual. I have been using the Lume Cube for many months and have been most satisfied with its performance and portability. I have used these lights for macro, video and portraiture and love the results they have helped produce.
- Type LED
- Output Variable: 0 to 1500 Lumens
- Strobe: Variable 1/8000 to 1 second
- Mount Type: 1/4″-20 female
- Power Source: Integrated battery
- Battery Duration: 100% Brightness: 20 minutes; 90% Brightness: 60 minutes; 50% Brightness: 120 minutes
- Power Connector: USB (for charging)
- Waterproof Depth: 100′ / 30.5 m
- Dimensions: 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5″
The Lume Cube comes in a small cube shaped cardboard box that contains the Lume Cube and a USB charging cable.
You do need to unscrew a small cover to access the charging port. This access cover is a requirement as the Lume Cube is rated to be waterproof to depth of 100 feet.
Shaped as a cube, the unit has two rubberized push button switches on the top and a 1/4 20 mount that can be used to mount the light on a light stand, tripod or any flexible light mounting device.
The two push buttons control the video light and the alternate flash function of the device. Each time you depress the on/off video switch the light cycles through 10 levels of intensity.
You can also control the Lume Cube using the mobile app. Lume Cube has simplified its lighting controls with a proprietary wireless, Bluetooth-enabled app, available on both Apple iOS and Android. The app is capable of controlling up to 5 Lume Cubes simultaneously. The app allows you to adjust the brightness, flash duration and red eye latency on each Lume Cube independently; and with its onboard optical sensor, Lume Cube can be configured as a slave flash unit to be fired by any other external flash.You have to register your Lume Cube to sync it to your app once registered you can control all your Lume Cube’s power and settings separately.
Lume Cube Setup and test for portraits
To test the Lume Cubes I fitted two Lume Cubes on two separate light stands. The “Main” Lume Cube was place so as to create Rembrandt lighting on the dummy head. The second was place to create a gentle fill. As you can see from the image below, the Lume Cube, due mainly to its size creates a fairly hard light. The settings were ISO 200, f/1.7 at 1/125 sec. using a Panasonic Lumix GX85 body and a Lumix 42.5mm f/1.7 lens wide open. The light emitted is cool and for this test I used an X-Rite Color Checker Passport to balance the temperature.
The second test was conducted with the same placement of the lights but instead of the Lume Cubes facing the dummy head directly the light was bounced off two Rogue Flash Benders. No Diffusion material was used.
As you can see the light was much softer and way more pleasing in the image below. The settings were ISO 640, F/1.7 at 1/80 sec. Clearly there is about 3 stops of light loss when using the Flash Benders. However, the soft light is excellent for portraiture.
Lume Cube for Macro/Close-up Photography
The Lume Cube produces a really hard light as it is a very small light, but also a very powerful one. The Lume Cubes were about 1.5 inches from the subject. Exposure triad: F/4, 1/800 sec., ISO 640. The lens was a 30mm macro with an extension tube. Camera: Panasonic Lumix GX85.
The following is the setup:
The image shown below is a 45 image stack using the GX85’s focus bracketing feature.
The portability of these little powerhouses has me convinced, and I tend to carry two in my bag at all times.
A while back I had done a review of the exceptionally versatile and compact Platypod Pro® Deluxe Kit. Now the makers have introduced a follow-up to the Platypod Pro called the Max.
Much planning, engineering and fine machining go in to making the Platypod Pro® Max. The Max’s initial form is stamped out of a 5mm thick sheet of aircraft grade aluminum maintaining absolute flatness. Using Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), the plate is computer machine precision drilled for all holes and slots. Edges are round-routed and holes either threaded or chamfered to avoid any sharp edges. Key holes slots for attaching the spike screw box are drilled only partway through the plate with very low tolerances to allow easy but firm attachment. These last holes are invisible from underneath the plate.
I have been informed by the manufacturer that the machining quality and workmanship on the Max is so meticulous that despite computer aided manufacturing the factory can only produce 1500 every 25 days!
Like the original Platypod Pro the Platypod Pro Max is a sturdy flat mini tripod ideal for low-angle shots and situations where traditional tripods are cumbersome or impractical. It is however, significantly larger, has four spikes/reversible rubber feet rather than three, a belt loop, a single 3/8 inch 16 ball head mounting screw and a 1/4 inch 20 removable stud to mount accessories.
Here is an image captured with the Max set up on top of the stone wall at Tunnel View – Yosemite NP.
Unlike its smaller brother the Max supports ball heads of any size and is rated to support 300 pounds. A 3/8 inch 16 threaded screw hole allows you to mount the Max directly to your tripod as and when needed. Made of aircraft grade aluminum anodized black with beautiful self-explanatory laser etchings, the Max comes in a red microfiber drawstring pouch.
If you already own a Platypod Pro the Max does not replace it, rather it compliments it where situations demand a larger base or when you need to physically move your low lying camera rig across the sand or grass when photographing wildlife.
- Base – 6061 black anodized aircraft-grade aluminum. 5 mm thick. 5.25 x 7.75” (5-year warranty—Full replacement of parts for any defect in workmanship.)
- Fiberglass-reinforced nylon removable “bayonet style” storage box mounted onto plate to hold four 1/4-20 spikes, 2 inches long, with heavy-duty rubber feet and locking nuts. Small magnets keep spikes in place for storage.
- Five 1/4-20 threaded holes strategically placed to allow use of spike feet in configurations of one, two, three, or four at a time.
- Two 2-inch belt slots to secure to any cylindrical object or to tape onto floors for remote camera setups.
- 1/4-20 and 3/8-16 accessory threaded holes for attachment to tripods or quick-release devices under the unit.
- 3/8-16 TA2 titanium photographic bolt drilled and countersunk through the plate and welded in place for large tripod ball heads, such as the RRS-BH55, even with spike-feet in place.
- Two non-threaded holes for permanent or semi-permanent mounting to floors, walls, ceilings or panels.
- Weight: 13 ounces, including spikes and storage box.
At approximately 5 x 8 inches it is about the size of an iPad Mini and fits well in any camera case that has a slot or pouch designed to hold a laptop or an iPad. As an option you can use either slot or one of the non-threaded holes and a carabiner to hang the Max from your belt or a loop on your backpack.
As compared to the original Platypod Pro, Max’s larger footprint means more stability. Like the Pro, Max is made of aircraft-grade aluminum with an embedded 3/8-inch titanium bolt. However, it does come with a few features, including a pair of slots that can secure Max via a bungee cord, zip-ties or even your belt to freestanding objects and structures. In the center are 1/4- and 3/8-inch holes to attach Max to quick-release devices, such as the Peak Design Capture Clip, or directly onto a tripod center column. A very convenient 1/4 – 1/4-inch male cross-nut allows attachment of flexible arms, speed-lights and numerous accessories. Here I used a Novoflex Flex Arm and a Lume Cube LED to light the crystal. The camera is a Panasonic GH4 with a 30mm Lumix macro lens. A second 1/4 – 1/4 and a second Flex Arm would be ideal for cross lighting a macro subject.
The Max‘s larger base allows use of most any ball head. The RRS B55 is the largest ball head I own and I had no problem attaching it to the Max and all the knobs have adequate clearance. As I no longer use large DSLR’s all my tests were done with Sony and Panasonic mirrorless bodies. Using the Max with an A7RII and the 70 – 200 mm f/4.0 lens was a breeze. I also mounted a Panasonic GH4 with the new Leica 100-400 using a Wimberly SideKick for quick reaction time and maneuverability. When using the Sidekick it is imperative that you remove the holder for the spikes with a simple twist and place the cross-nut in one of the corner positions, out-of-the-way. This gives the sidekick the clearance for 360 degree rotation. The Max supported this rig very well.
With the Platypod Pro you had to be careful mounting heavier gear. It was best to ensure the center of gravity was as close to the center of the Platypod Pro mounted ball-head. With the Max, this is a less of an issue. With a medium or large ball head the Max will comfortably support most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras fitted with normal to long telephoto lenses. A super telephoto lens properly mounted on a good ball head works well too. Here as in the image below I tested it using the RRS BH55 and the Wimberley Sidekick with a Canon 500 mm f/4.0 lens attached to a Sony A7R II using a Metabones IV adaptor.
Similar to the Platypod the Max is ideal great for ground level photography and videography, a mount for action cameras and for creating panoramas. When creating panoramas use a pan/tilt ball head like the Unique as shown below or attach a leveling base (see following image) below the ball head as shown in an image above where the RSS BH55 is mounted on top of the Acratech 1170 leveling base. As the Max is made of a relatively thin aluminum plate it would be difficult to have a built-in level. A third-party bubble level can be adhered to the max or simply place on it to level the Max. When it is necessary to level the Max it is best to use three of the four spikes or rubber ends. Four legs are great for stability but not so for leveling. The Max is best used without spikes or feet when you want to have the flexibility of sliding it in any direction on flat surfaces, sand or grass. When friction is important then the spikes are the best option. In the reverse orientation the rubber caps not only provide friction preventing the base from sliding around but also prevent damage to furniture, painted surfaces, etc.
For surfaces like asphalt, rocks and brick the spikes are your best choice for stability. To attach the base plate to a fence post, rail or tree limb, a pair of bungee cords, straps or your belt work great. All you need is to secure the cord around your object and hook the ends into the slots or holes in the base plate. Belts and straps can be passed through the slots on each side of the Max to secure it to any post, tree trunk or similar object.
The Max with its little brother the Platypod Pro have a permanent home in my photography kit. I find I am using these support systems more than using my tripods.
All company names, products and devices mentioned in this review are trademarks of the respective companies, registered in the U.S. and other countries.
Following up with the release of the exceptional Leica 100 – 400 mm nature and wildlife photographers’ dream lens, Panasonic has announced a new Leica 12mm (24 mm equivalent on MFT bodies) f/1.4 weather sealed wide-angle prime lens. Suitable for great landscapes and with this f/1.4 speed it will be ideal for astro photography. This will be Panasonic’s widest non-fish eye prime lens in the MFT lineup. Hope to have one in my kit for my Iceland workshop in September.
It will be available later this summer for $1300 (rounded).
Here is the press release:
NEWARK, NJ (July 1, 2016) – Panasonic unveiled a new LEICA DG SUMMILUX 12mm/F1.4 ASPH. (35 mm camera equivalent: 24 mm) digital interchangeable lens for Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera based on the Micro Four Thirds standard. The new 12mm wide-angle lens enables photographers to capture beautiful group, event, and nature photography. It also allows indoor shooting in low lighting and produces an impressive, natural defocusing effect with its F1.4 aperture. In addition, the LEICA DG SUMMILUX 12mm/F1.4 ASPH. boasts a rugged, splash/dust-proof design (when combined with splash and dustproof LUMIX G Mirrorless camera models) to meet the needs of a wide-range of photographic situations.
Integrating two aspherical lenses, two UED (Ultra Extra-Low Dispersion) lenses and an ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) lens, the lens system is comprised of 15 elements in 12 groups. The adoption of five special lenses makes it possible to meet the stringent LEICA standard for exceptional image quality with high resolution and minimum distortion. In general, flare is commonly seen around the periphery of a point source with many high-speed lenses when a large aperture is employed. However, the new LEICA DG SUMMILUX 12mm/F1.4 ASPH. achieves high resolution from the center of the image to the corners by suppressing this flare. Users can take advantage of this lens to shoot a brilliant night skies or night scenes containing illumination to capture true-to-life images with minimal blurring and distortion at the edges. The multi-coated lens elements also minimize ghosting and flaring.
Incorporating an inner focus drive system and a stepping motor, the new LEICA DG SUMMILUX 12mm/F1.4 ASPH. is capable of smooth, silent operation together with the camera’s high-speed, high-precision contrast AF system for both photo and video recording. It is also compatible with the sensor drive at a maximum of 240 fps to take full advantage of cameras with high-speed AF. This stunning AF performance is excellent for recording 4K videos, where precise focusing is essential.
The LEICA DG SUMMILUX 12mm/F1.4 ASPH. comes with an aperture ring for direct, intuitive aperture control. Nine blades give the aperture a rounded shape that produces an attractively smooth effect in out-of-focus areas when shooting at larger aperture settings. A highly reliable metal mount assures durability for repeated use. The lens mount, the barrel and the hood are all made of metal to provide a sleek, sophisticated design that matches the entire line-up of LUMIX G Digital Single Lens Mirrorless (DSLM) cameras.
|Focal length||12 mm|
|Number of diaphragm blades||9|
|Special elements / coatings||2 aspherical lenses, 1 ED lens, 2 UED lenses|
|Minimum focus||0.20 m (7.87″)|
|Motor type||Stepper motor|
|Weight||335 g (0.74 lb)|
|Diameter||70 mm (2.76″)|
|Length||70 mm (2.76″)|
|Filter thread||62.0 mm|
The ZEISS Batis 2.8/18 expands the Batis range of lenses with a super wide-angle lens. For the Sony α system with E-mount the new lens, which features a diagonal angular field of 99 degrees, is currently the shortest full-frame fixed focal length with autofocus. The new ZEISS Batis 2.8/18 with innovative OLED display to show focus distance and depth of field is also impressive thanks to its high image quality across the entire image field. The lens will be available from May 2016.
Think Tank Photo have just released the largest photo lighting rolling bag ever and have added a new size and color to their popular Retrospective shoulder bag series. The Production Manager 50 is a monster, designed to hold C-stands, multiple flash heads, power packs, monoblocks, softboxes, and light-stands. What it used to take two people to transport, you can now do by yourself. And, they’ve added a new color—Sandstone—to their Retrospective line, and the new Retrospective 6, which holds Mirrorless systems or a gripped DSLR. Don’t forget, that by using these web links to order you will receive free gear and free shipping.
Click on the links below to order.
On a whim I set up the Swarovski scope to its lowest magnification at 30X. The camera was the Panasonic Lumix GH4 set at ISO 1600, and 1/60 sec shutter. The image when clicked on is the full frame from the camera 4680 X 3072 pixels. The adjustments made to the raw file are: highlight recovery of -29, white balance adjusted to 5700 Kelvin (to taste), noise reduction using Topaz Denoise version 6. A a touch of contrast and clarity to finish. All this in the hope the weather stays good and I can get a few images of Jupiter this weekend. I did not use a remote shutter release but will for the Jupiter images.
Copyright © 2003 - 2020 Shiv Verma all rights reserved - no content from this site may be copied or redistributed without the express written permission.
Deliberate Photography™, Deliberate Creations™ and Creative Vision™ are trademarks of shiv verma | photography